OPINION: BHS Teacher Contracts Don't Show Much Fiscal Restraint
Recent changes could cost the district more than the projected annual operating budget savings of the consolidated high school project.
Last month, the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education approved a 3-year contract with the BHEA (Bloomfield Hills Education Association). As reported in the press, “Because of changes to health care plans, the district has determined that they will realize an estimated savings of $64,400 to $526,406 in school year 2012-2013, and $1,708,632 in the 2013-2014 school year.” These savings appear to be in line with reforms mandated by state legislation on school employee health care benefits funding.
The publicly distributed package for the June 21 BHS Board meeting says, “The savings from the tentative Agreement, as compared to budgeted increases, are $64,400 - $526,406 in 2012-13 and $1,708,632 in 2013-14.” This appears to read as if all the savings are due to the changes in health benefits mandated by the state.
The local press also reported, “For the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, teachers will see no salary increase other than for the top step, which will receive a one percent increase.” This statement is not correct.
As stated in the board distributed package, “(For) 2012-13; no increase in the salary schedule except on the top step; full steps; top step receives 1% more than the top step received in 2011-12. Estimated additional cost over 2011-12 = $1,321,570.” Similarly, 2013-14 yields a cost over 2012-13 at $1,063,333 – or $2,384,903 higher than 2011-12.
It appears individual teachers will continue to receive raises based on these seniority-driven schedules rather than merit. With the return to “full steps” the raises will be twice the “half step” increases received under the expiring contract. Apparently, there is no longer a need for the teachers to sacrifice even the pace of their increases. I presume administrators will be similarly rewarded.
These changes, agreed to less than a month after the May election, will cost the district more than the projected annual operating budget savings of the consolidated high school project. That vote authorized a capital bond with an annual tax cost of $4.2 million to save operating costs of $1.4 million annually.
So much for fiscal restraint.